Thank you to my beautiful friend for writing this entry. You are a kind, clever and inspirational human and the things we are going to achieve knows no bounds.
An open letter to the change-makers, to the hopeful souls and to the perpetually afraid.
I guess it’s about time we came clean. We are tired. Tired of fear driving all conversations, embedding itself in our central operating systems, like that one friend who comes to your house, steals your TV remote only to declare reign over bad re-runs of ‘The Ghost Whisperer’. And we have a feeling that you might be growing tired of being afraid too.
Because fear breeds our greatest challenges. We also live in a world that feeds us an ongoing diet of media telling us what to fear and who to blame. In many developed economies, inequality has risen and the public fears that social compact is broken, leading to a backlash against globalisation, humanitarian assistance and immigration, to name a few. This has caused people to disconnect and turn inwards to their own communities, to themselves. We have never before been so technologically connected in history, yet so disconnected from a real understanding of the lives of others. But fear doesn’t serve us, at least not anymore.
What was derived from an evolutionary survival mechanism, we have come far enough to have long outgrown our need to consume fear on a daily basis. Fear spreads like disease and over time conditions to become hate. But we need to remember that hate was once fear, just now dressed up in a swanky, oversized coat. Many use fear as a platform to dehumanise others in order to justify most inhumane actions. They need fear to do so, because we as humans are biologically hardwired against hurting our equals; ourselves. So fear created the concepts of superiority and inferiority to serve alongside them. These ideas were then passed down and so procreated many of the events in the world that are unfolding.
But if fear is taught, then it can be untaught. If we can re-write the factory settings for fear, then we are more powerful than the problems we confront. What we need is a new framework; a new mental model. They say that Trump received so much public support in the US presidential vote not necessarily because of support for him, but because those who were vulnerable to his suggestion were shouted down and shamed for being so influenced by fear (which only further fed their fear and multiplied unto others). Imagine if we used compassion as a weapon against the seductive control of fear on the human psyche instead of vilification, by stepping into an empathetic space with those in a learned state of unconscious fear. I will always believe that human impulse towards a greater good will eclipse those that make us vulnerable to suggestion. Above all, I believe that intelligence and compassion can be one’s greatest assets, because what we know matters, but who we are matters more. We can defeat fear – but we need everyone to do so.
As humans, we are hardwired for curiosity, creativity and above all, connection. What we create here exists only because of how it impacts on others, and how others including ourselves, connect to it. The success of everything we do in our lives depends on our ability to meaningfully connect with others. I encourage you to collect the autobiographical stories of humans that you may now explicitly (or implicitly) fear and to let them profoundly remind you that perspective matters. Let them be the authors of their own stories. I have learnt more about resilience, about generosity and about how to find the beauty in everything from some of the world’s most ‘poorest’ (not inferior) people. I deeply believe that every single person has something in them that the world needs. I also acknowledge the sobering truth that every person has a story that could bring you to your knees.
We craft courage from failure when we understand that showing up, being here and holding an empathic space with others is our greatest power. We are all made of both struggle and strength and we are intrinsically connected to each other through the messy and complex experience that is being human. We are resilient and we will achieve, not because of what we are supposed to be, but because of who we are. All I ask, is that you show up and continue to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.
A friend you haven’t met yet.